Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Life in the Fast Lane

(a cafe in Little Italy)

I've been burning the candle at both ends....maybe a few more than just two.

I'm looking forward to a little down-time. There's not much that I really regret about getting older, but it definitely takes me a little longer to recover. I've been to New York and Washington, DC in the last two days without much sleep in between.

I find myself wondering what I enjoy most in life...sleep or good times.

When we're younger, we chase fun for all we're worth. I know I did my share of chasing...guess I caught my fair share of fun too. The last two days have been wonderful!! Friends and family and lots of good food and drink...but to sleep...

I sometimes wish I could move to that land we visit when we're sleeping. Have you ever awoke and wished you could recapture that last few minutes of some dream? There's something special about the time that we spend asleep. Some of my happiest moments have been waking up at 2 in the morning and realizing that the night is only half over and I can go back to sleep for a few more hours; some of my worst have been to wake and look at the alarm clock to see that it will go off in 5 minutes and that my night is over..."To sleep, perchance to dream...". There's no rub to it for me and if what comes after is anything like what comes each night when I nod off...I'll have a very happy afterlife!

I hope you all have as much fun as you can handle...and a good night's sleep to follow.

Best! Norm.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Beautiful Stranger

Traveling alone...

I stopped for dinner at the Cafe Vitro just off the Plaka. I am used to eating alone and I'm comfortable with a quiet dinner enjoying local food and observing my fellow patrons. The wine and the lamb are wonderful!

As I sit drinking my wine, I notice a girl in the next booth...She is very Greek and very beautiful! This girl still has the flower of youth on her (she must be about 20)...I think about what is beautiful. What is it that the artists are trying to capture? I have been looking at sculpture that is 2500 years old that tries to capture the very beauty that sits before me. How impossible is their task! As much as I enjoy a good painting or sculpture, nothing can truly capture the wonder that is a beautiful woman!

She is with another girl and a young man. They speak to each other in English. The two girls are flirting with the young man and their conversation is typical of the conversations of young people everywhere, who are trying to impress each other. It is an empty discussion and I quickly disconnect from it. I have found truth in many the company of good stimulating the my work. The girl before me offers none of these truths. I will never know this girl and will never see her after I've left the restaurant...but there is a truth in her beauty.

As we eat and as they talk, she catches my eye and smiles at me. There are times during the meal when she raises her voice and I realize that she is talking to me (as well as to her friends). It feels wonderful to realize that she finds me attractive...that she has noticed that I find her beautiful and that she appreciates this. This is but a brief moment in a long life. I have seen beautiful women (and men) everywhere. I don't know these people and I am not responding to their souls, but their beauty speaks to me. Beauty is as much a truth as anything else and it is truth that I seek.

How beautiful must be that ultimate truth!!! If the classical art of Greece is so pale an imitation of the beauty of a young woman, how modest a glimpse is her beauty of the beauty that is God! Maybe that's why beauty captures is a glimpse of that beautiful light that lives deep within me. I look forward to that ultimate beauty. Until then, I will enjoy the glimpse that I get from the pretty girl that shares a meal in some restaurant along my path home.

Best! Norm.

Monday, December 12, 2005

...and Justice for all!

I walk among the temples of the Acropolis in Athens and I contemplate justice and the rights of man...

Like every parent, I have often heard the refrain form my children that this or that, "isn't fair". I generally tell them that fare is what you pay the bus driver and not to look for fair in this lifetime. Given that they have loving parents and every advantage, I can't really get too excited about my children's first encounters with injustice...maybe I should. We tend to forget as we get older how disheartening it was when we first discovered that there was injustice in this would. That life isn't fair. Our minds screamed at this callous disregard for what is clearly right!

I have often said in this blog that what God exists in this world is what God we carry inside of ourselves and share with our fellow travelers...I feel this is also true of justice. If we would have justice in this world, then we must be just. I am encouraged... I often write here about many ways in which the world is becoming a colder and darker place...that we don't care for each other or love each other the way people once did. But in certain ways, things are getting better. I believe that the rights of individuals are respected more now than they ever have been. There's still a long way to go, but it has become much more difficult (and much more widely condemned) for the powerful to torture, murder and steal from the poor...or to suppress the voices of freedom. Many people have fought and died to bring a little more justice into the world. My daughter reminded me of the image of the man before the tanks in Tiananmen Square...I wonder what happened to that brave man.

As I stand here, I realize that this battle has gone on for over 2000 years. I want to thank all those who have struggled to bring more justice and respect into this world; especially those who have lost their property or their lives in the fight to give justice to others. I constantly hope and pray that we can find a way to love each other...respecting each other is a good start.

Best! Norm.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Good Meal

I have been working far from home, but have been enjoying time with colleagues and have been drinking in the beauty and simplicity of this ancient island.

Last night, an engineer from New Delhi took us all to an Indian restaurant for food, conversation, and good local wine. As the meal was finished and we all sat drinking and talking, it struck me how much I was enjoying the company and the moment! Most of the cultures of the world sat around the table and yet we were all sharing in our common humanity…in the light that shines within us.

It struck me that the evils done in this world are done in a mostly impersonal manner…how much easier to kill and abuse those whom you don’t know or acknowledge as individuals. I looked about me and realized that I could never bear any malice to any of those with whom I shared this time…I felt a general feeling of good will and love. Briefly, I considered that if we all truly knew each other we would be able to overcome so many of the evils in this world.

I quickly decided that this idea was very naïve and began, in my somewhat inebriated state, to come to grips with why the idea was a bad one. I landed upon a belief that I’ve recounted here before – That there are people in this world that do not have the light of truth and love within them. I have met people such as these and it is easy to see that they have no love for themselves or for any others. These people strive for power, but don’t realize that it will never fill their emptiness. In their search they cause purposeful hurt to others. To the extent that these empty people gain the power they seek, their maliciousness leads to greater and greater pain and suffering for others. When they rule, they spark murder, war, and genocide. I sometimes find myself feeling sorry for these people as they will always be empty and are doomed never to know truth and love (the real power that they seek). Unfortunately, I have no more power to help the empty ones than I have to completely stop them from hurting others.

I still came away from the dinner feeling very happy. There are so many more people with the light of love and truth within them than there are with empty souls. In their hearts, most people shelter love and compassion. This is where my God lives and I find him wherever I go…how nice to have a nice dinner with him and to share good wine and conversation!!

It’s amazing to me that there is so much love in so many of us that the supply is endless. Take as much as you can…give even more…it never runs out! It is good that in this cold and lonely place that God surrounds us in the hearts of those that share our path.

Best! Norm.